Estate Sales-Come Treasure Hunt With Me…

When I was a little girl growing up in Connecticut, my mother and oldest sister loved to go to garage sales on the weekends. They would circle the garage sale ads in The Manchester Herald, pack my niece, nephew, and I into the car and off we would go. My mother was smart, she would give me a few dollars and tell me that I could also shop at the sales. It certainly made the outing more fun and it kept me from asking, “Are we done yet?” My mother was also teaching me how to budget at an early age. I knew I had to make the money she gave me last the whole morning. If I spent it all at once at an early sale, my shopping was done for the day. In the end, I so enjoyed those garage sales! I would buy my Christmas gifts at the garage sales and put them away. When Christmas came, I was so proud of the gifts I personally chose for my family members. Of course, I bought myself a few choice items too! Fast forward about 35 years and I had a total aha moment! One day, I walked into an estate sale in my neighborhood and found the vintage lucite owl pictured above. I had one just like it as a kid and it was one of my favorite possessions. I lost it somewhere along the way. When I walked into that sale and saw the owl, I was so excited and kind of in awe- after all these years- there it was! I told the seller my story and he handed the owl to me and said, “It’s free, I want you to have this.” That owl is now one of my favorite things in my house. One of my friends calls me the “Estate Sale Queen” and every once in a while I get my now grown son to join me on my weekend estate sale escapades! I have come full circle.

Upgrade Your Closet on a Budget

Going to estate sales and garage sales is like one fun and joyful treasure hunt! Every estate sale is different. Some are completely vintage, where the same owner has resided in the house for 50 plus years, and it is like walking into a time capsule. Other sales are in waterfront mansions, where I am looking at designer clothing (hopefully in my size) and accessories. I have purchased brand new Chanel pumps, vintage Louis Vuitton sandals, and a Dolce & Gabbana business suit to name just a few of my fabulous finds! Now, I am the MoneyMaestra, so I am not advocating purchasing designer brands just to purchase designer brands- not my thing! But when the price on the designer brand is so good that it rivals TJ Maxx- then I am in! Like I said, one big treasure hunt! Some of the nicest, best quality clothes and shoes in my closet were purchased at estate and garage sales- at a fraction of the cost. I am helping my wallet and the environment. Now that’s some Joy of Money right there!

Curate Your Home

When people come into my home for the first time, the words I hear spoken repeatedly are your house is, “so warm and cozy and has such a good energy.” Many of the items in my home were purchased at estate and garage sales. I have been able to curate my home over the years, on a budget, and make it authentically me. I have purchased pieces of furniture at estate sales that are so beautiful, so unique, and at such incredible prices- it puts a smile on my face just thinking about it! Let me share a couple photos below of two of my favorite furniture pieces.

I was on the search for a vintage entryway hall tree for years. When I saw this one, I knew it was meant for me. One day, several years ago, I found it at an estate sale in Coconut Grove- just like it was waiting there for me to walk in the door.

This is an incredible Maitland-Smith wood and marble table with brass swan and dolphin detailing. I fell in love with it at first sight. This is a beautiful piece that I never would have paid full price for but I was able to take it home and stay in budget. This purchase was a Magic Money Moment for me!

Oh and the small decorative home items you will find…let your imagination run wild! Did anyone say vases? I purchased these at a price of $1-$10 each. The large clear one on the left for $10 is vintage and has etched birds on it. The nature inspired items are my sweet spot.

Create a Garden Paradise

So let’s wander to the garden next. I am a butterfly gardener and nature is a place of sanctuary for me. My garden brings me such peace. One of my favorite categories of items to search for at estate sales are unique and functional pieces to accent my ever expanding pollinator garden. So, let’s take a peak at a few garden gems I have purchased for a song…

This metal sculptural piece I found tucked away in a corner of a yard at an estate sale and purchased it for $15. It now supports my Corkystem Passion Vines- the host plant of the Zebra Longwing and Gulf Fritillary butterflies. You can’t see the passion vines in this photo because they have recently fed a colony of Zebra Longwing caterpillars. Connecting my adventure of estate sales with my love of nature and the beauty of budgeting- wow! that’s some magic math! Seriously, this $15 has brought me exponential dividends on my investment and will for years to come. The orchid to the right in the photo, which looks like this in bloom….. was also purchased at an estate sale.

An artist made bird bath from another estate sale. My feathered friends appreciate this art work.

A vintage metal butterfly piece that I will have made into a garden gate.

So, estate sales to me are a win/win/win- they are fun, they are budget friendly, and they benefit the environment. A fourth win- I am helping to support local estate sale companies. MoneyMaestra’s next Friday Finance Fun is on June 19th at 6 pm EDT and my wonderful guest is Matty Shapiro, the owner of Estate Sales by Matty. Many of my favorite items, including several in these photos, were purchased at Matty’s sales. I shopped Matty’s first sale eight years ago and not only do I love to shop her sales, we have become friends. So please join me on June 19th as I talk with Matty about treasure hunting and how you can stretch your dollar by stretching your mind, your creativity, and your sense of adventure! Oh, and my outfit and accessories on this week’s Friday Finance Fun will all be estate sale purchases! See you there!


Susan, The MoneyMaestra

Susan Howell
Written by: Susan Howell, The MoneyMaestra.

Even though I grew up without money, I was able to retire at 50 based on my financial practices. I worked for the Federal Government for 26 years, with 6 of those years at the IRS and 20 at the Department of Justice, which included investigating many money-related cases.

I created MoneyMaestra to share what I know and to help people get on the path to Financial Freedom.


  1. Davey

    Those tag sales were some of my favorite memories growing up. I remember vividly the newspaper adds and a million of them circled.
    So good to go back in time for a moment with you!

    • Susan Howell

      Davey, they were also some of my favorite memories growing up! I was thinking the same thing-I too remember those newspaper adds with a big circle around each garage sale on our route.I was stepping back in time in my mind, with a big smile, while I wrote that blog post.

  2. Janice britz

    I guess it runs in the family. I too go to estate sales and garage sales. I so look forward to the week-ends for them. It is like a treasure hunt. So happy you found that little owl.

    • Susan Howell

      It does run in the family! Yes, it is a treasure hunt- we were taught well on how to find a good deal.

  3. Karyn Keil

    I also recall going to “tag sales” growing up! And I remberer having one at my house (which you and your mother attended!) during which I sold my Winnie the Pooh. Now, that was a big mistake and I learnded from it that you need to discern what is “valuable” to you and what is not. The value of that stuffed toy (and it’s childhood memories) far outweighed whatever monetary value I received for it. I loved sharing your photo journey of estate sale finds; it always feels more magical and valuable when we make a great find! Looking forward to seeing your estate sale wardrobe on Friday. Hoping there will be costume changes 😉

    • Susan Howell

      Karyn, yes, “tag sales” were what we called our sales in Connecticut. I think the first estate sale I ever experienced was in Fort Lauderdale, with you, in an expensive high-rise on the beach, right after we graduated from university. I still remember I bought a set of French porcelain drink coasters! I agree on the Pooh sale, we definitely need to discern what is “valuable” to ourselves. Hmm, a costume change..let me think about that…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *